Sunday, February 14, 2010

A typical shopping day

For several days the weather has been so bad that we couldn't hop in our bus and drive to town.
Simple things like needing milk, is not so simple when you have 18 kids and your husband is out
of town.
With the roads being icy I just didn't want to chance driving our bus to town so we stayed put, but oh how I needed to get out! I spend a few days just feeling claustrophobic in my own home.
I was irritable and grouchy, and just feeling like lousy mother of the year. I could rationalize that

I knew it would pass .... but I still hated being in that place.
So today I loaded up the bus and took off to town. Now Saturday is not the best time to go shopping with 18 kids... but I was feeling little desperate.
First we stopped at the day old breadstore. We got a HUGE bucket of all kinds of bread for forty dollars. We formed a assembly line and loaded it in the bus. Thekids were real excited with all the donuts.

Our next stop was Sams club. We have a system. Everyone has a partner they are responsiblefor, they all stay behind me and the basket, and everyone had to stay to one side of the isle.

It all went perfectly, so we all sat down for a hot dog. I dread ordering food for our group. Never fails whoever is waiting on us gives me that look like "what could you possibly want with 19 hot dogs", but I push forward and try to ignore them. Many times at McDonalds or Taco Bell the say "could you please call first?"

My kids were picture perfect . They all sat down and patiently waited for there food. When they got there drinks they knew they had to go in fours and waited for their table to be called. They were quiet (praise God) and polite. I kept running back and for the to get napkins, relish, and check to see if the hot dogs were ready.

One woman approached me and said "Where are you from?" I knew
from experience what she was asking, and I said we lived in Abilene and these were my adopted children. I know now to cut to the chase and just let them know we are an adoptive family. With so many the same age, multiracial, I think they know already. She said "You have amazingly well behaved children, are you here by yourself?" I told her my husband was out of town.

For a moment I had to think why she was even asking that.
We go everywhere together.

A few minutes later another woman approached me to ask some of the same questions, this time to say "God bless you."

When I got in the Bus I took a moment to thank Jesus for those two messengers from him. To me they were saying you are doing a good job. I so needed to hear that to keep going with joy in my heart. You would think at fifty three, tons of kids raised, I wouldn't need to hear that, but oh how I do.

And my blessed Savior knew that.

Many times people are just critical. They are upset that I would take so many children into a store, even if they are well behaved. I feel like we are special needs sometimes... wanting to cry out "We have a right to be here too." But I don't, because through our family they need to see the blessings of adoption and the
love of Christ, and it starts with me.

So off we went to the Christian book store. It is huge, people are kind, and we have a wonderful time.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Can I be faithful in the small things?

Dani loving on new baby.

Friend giving the kid instruction on raising goats.
Moyou with new baby.

When we moved to Texas we had really big plans. Immediately we were going to plan a

garden, build a chicken house, build pens for goats, pigs and a cow. That is of course only

the yard plans. We moved to a smaller home than we had in California, so we had already

discussed how we would build on and re-model.

Then reality stuck! Ron was working a lot less than he had in the past. The house we

bought had many things that needed repair (like heating) and we were without dryers.

And the more practical reasons... where is the time to do any of that??? With 18 kids,

homeschooling, meals, chores.....and my involvment with helping Africa...

So I know for me, I had to take a huge step back. All of these huge dreams were just going

to have to be done one baby step at a time. I wanted to move mountains, see really huge

accomplishments but were those MY PLANS OR GODS?

I read a post yesterday about missionary family that picked up and moved there 11 kids to

Liberia to live and work. In a small way it made me think about our move to Texas.

Greg talks about the BIG plans they had to change Liberia... and now they know that

it isn't their plans, but the Lords, one baby step at a time.

I've always been the kind of person who believes all things are possible. Let's assume it's because I'm young, not naïve (it will make me feel better that way!). But whatever the reason, whatever it is, I've always believed I can find a way to get things done. For most of our marriage, life has seemed to come easily for Vanessa and me. We married young and quickly moved beyond most of our friends' and relatives' expectations. We were deeply in love, best of friends with a family people seemed to admire. We had no business experience, but we launched a business and it did well. We were always careful to give back into the Kingdom and God blessed us more than we could have expected. For those on the outside looking in, things seemed to come easily for us.

Then a few years ago we made the decision to adopt. We were sure we could apply the same principles we had applied with our other children and we would all live happily ever after. That's not the way it happened. It has been much harder than we expected and we soon learned that even our best wasn't good enough.

About this same time our business that had been doing so well began to show signs of trouble. The economy was coming unglued. The industry I worked in was in the beginning stages of decline, and the competition was feeling the same pressures. As we went to God for answers I realized that while I talked about trusting God, I had become pretty self dependent. I believed God cared and that he was intimately involved in my life. I believed that I could go to Him with any need I had. But because things had come so easily for us, I hadn't really developed a dependent relationship on God.

Now when I needed Him the most I was finding it hard to get close to Him. It's easy to say we trust in God, but do we really? Often it's more talk than reality. Our trust is structured by the rules and expectations we set in our own lives. Many times these rules don't even necessarily coincide with scripture, but they make us feel safe.

The question is, "Does your commitment match your talk?" Are you committed to a truly biblical relationship with Christ?

It is easy, especially in America, to get caught up in the day to day grind and just go through the motions. Up in the morning, get dressed, grab a quick cup of coffee, run through a few Bible verses (hopefully), leave to work, do the eight hours, come home, spend a few minutes with family (often too few), surf the channels or the web for awhile, head to bed, and start the same routine the next morning. But for too many of us the spiritual gets squeezed out in the routine of the secular. That vital relationship with Christ suffers.

What has happened that glorifies God in our lives? What have we done to reach others with the saving knowledge of Christ? When Vanessa and I started Spirit Liberia, we had a Big vision filled with Big projects.That "Bogdan" tendency to believe there was no project too big had kicked in. We were going to build Churches, hold mega conferences, start mega farms, and in general turn Liberia upside for Christ; if not in a day, surely a week. It was a grand idea that didn't work.

Why? Well first, I think we were too focused on the task. We needed to learn to trust God rather than ourselves, or others, and genuinely follow His calling on our lives; no matter what the cost. And we needed to really know the mission field and the people God had called us to reach. So we took a step back and decided to take the time to know the mission field to which He had called us.

We dug in. We began building relationships with our Liberian missions' team - the people God has called us to train and equip. We wanted to get to know who they were .... How they live.... What makes them function so well in a society devastated physically and emotionally by war ....wrecked by disease and steeped in spiritism and other spiritual difficulties? And we are learning that the answer is faith. It is all about faith. The more we get to know our missions team and other Christians in Liberia, the more we learn how desperately they love the Lord. And the wonderful thing is this love is contagious and it is rubbing off on us! We wanted it and most of all, we needed it.

We have come to understand that rather than focusing on the big tasks that draw more attention, God wanted us to start with the people that He had called us to reach ...His people. These people are not just pictures to be sent to constituents for fund raising, they are not just part of a task ... they are the people Christ died for ... the people He loves and that He has called us to love and live with. There are ways we can help them and there are things we can teach them, but they can also help us and teach us. God has shown us these people are to be our family...our lives...and our ministry. We don't have to figure out the big picture. We have to be faithful in the small things and He will bring about the bigger things. We change a nation by starting with a person.

Charles Spurgeon said it this way, "One good deed is of far more worth than a thousand brilliant theories. Let us not wait for large opportunities for a different kind of work, but just do the things we 'find to do' day by day." We can do this! We can live with the people of Liberia, learn to understand their culture, their needs, their desires ... and then discover ways to bless them one blessing at a time.

I find myself thinking of this family often. Could we, with 18 children move to Liberia if the

Lord called us there? How much faith would that take? I kow how much faith it takes

just to get ready for a trip to Liberia in April. Trying to raise plane fare, collect donations,

make sure we have enough money to help with the unexpected.

I remember trying to go to Liberia in December. Our cars went out, my back went out,

we had a serious lack of funds, and I battled a huge brain fog in whatever I tried to do.

Now that is just warfare for one trip... imagine what this family is facing on a daily basis.

But the Lord promises “Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” (Psalms 55:22 NKJV)

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NKJV)

These are only two verses that PROMISES GOD is faithful. If he has called us to a task

he will be there, period!

So I rest in you Lord. That our little mini farm will prosper and grow as you provice the


That I will get to Liberia this April, that all of our sweet Liberian babies so desperately

in need of homes and help, will be surrounded by YOUR love and presence. And we will

accomplish all things that YOU give us the power to do.

And if you call us to do more...